Virtual Panels – Page 2 – Andy Peloquin

Andy Peloquin

I am an artist – words are my palette

Category: Virtual Panels (Page 2 of 2)


Why Book Reviews Matter

We all know that book reviews play a vital role in the success of our books, but have you ever wondered why? I sat down with a few readers, reviewers, and fellow authors to find out what makes book reviews so vital to them:

The Cliff Notes:

Why do book reviews matter?

  • Ratings don’t matter, but text reviews give us an idea of what’s in the story and whether we’ll enjoy it.

What’s more important: the review, or the “Look Inside”?

  • For many, the reviews (good or bad) mean nothing if that first bit of the book doesn’t draw us in or pass muster.

What do you look for in a good review?

  • Honesty. We want to know what’s wrong/right with it. Our goal is to make it better, so we need reviews to help us figure it out.

How do you read reviews? Skip to the 1- or 2-star ones, or read the 5-star ones?

  • The 1-to-2 Star reviews provide value to us as a reader and authors.

What makes you think a review is fake?

  • A couple of lines, no real understanding of the book, etc.

The Panelists:

Heidi Angell:

Heidi Angell is a bibliophile, lexicomaniac and wordsmith. She is the author of The Hunters Series, The Clear Angel Chronicles, and The Hell School Series. She also created Royal Prince Vince, and Creative Exercises to Inspire.

When she is not reading and writing, she can be found spending quality time with her lovely family camping, hiking, swimming, or watching movies.
Learn more about her at


RevKess is an author, reviewer, publisher and avid reader. RevKess struggled to read as a youngster, but once his parents got him glasses he was seldom without a book. He began writing stories and poetry at an early age and hasn’t stopped since. Most of his published works consist of short essays and articles for Pagan sites and magazines. His poetry, essays, and other short non-fiction works have been compiled into a soon to be released book called The Written Activist. When not reading or writing he can be found curled up in front of the TV with his cats. Watching TV and movies is research, after all.
His reviews can be found at He publishes for Saturn Returns Publishing which can be found on Facebook (and soon on the web). He also podcasts for Pagan-Musings Podcast Channel on BTR ( His Facebook page for writing is The Written Activist (

Ani Manjikian:

Born and raised in Southern California, the diagnosis of hydrocephalus at birth should have killed Ani, or worse, left her blank to the world. Her strength of spirit, parents’ love, and a miracle all combined to overcome that prognosiswithin nine months. From this almost impossible beginning, she has developed into all-around person with the technical knowledge and analytical mind of a programmer, creative and detailed orientation of a writer, and aesthetic instincts of a photographer.

Ani’s writing career started when a friend in Cyprus made her promise to stop throwing away her writings because she thought they weren’t good enough. After returning to the States, Ani set out to finish a single horse story and tried to get it published. However, the book, like the writer, needed time to mature. While perfecting her craft, Ani graduated from San Francisco State with a BA in Industrial Arts and worked several jobs from retail sales to human resources project management. Her innate ability to learn new computer programs with minimal instruction combined with her need to be creative led to her current long-term stint as a web designer and developer.

The book, meanwhile, spawned several siblings. Not knowing what to call this conglomerate of creativity, Ani turned to another friend who suggested a word play on the books main themes of horses, space, family, and heroes. Spirit of the Lone Horse, the first book in the Stars of Heros series, was published in March 2015 by Unsolicited Press. Others are on their way.


Website –

Right the Writer: an author to author blog –

Stars of Heros Facebook page –

Twitter  –

Jez Ibelle:

Jez Ibelle has been a Blogger / Reviewer / Reporter / Editor of for three (3) years; paneling at San Diego International Comic-con in 2015 and 2016 on how to attract Media coverage for independently published works. And–a host of Geek-a-PediaLIVE: What Geeks you at

Reading is a pleasure–writing about the experience is a passion.

As a sentence structure snob, she recently started a Youtube segment JEZ'(RE)ADs: where she–well–reads. Discussing what she likes or doesn’t like grammatically and suggests how to improve.



Story vs. Characters: Which is More Important?

This is a question I’ve found myself pondering on more than one occasion…

Make no mistake: I’ve come to understand that it’s the characters that drive the plot, not the other way around. Characters have to make decisions and take actions, not just react to the problems they encounter. A good story focuses on the character and how the things they face affect them, change them, and help them grow.

But you can’t just have a great character and do nothing with them. That’s like having a million dollars stuffed under your mattress. Unless you give readers a good story to go along with the great characters, you’ll do the character you’ve created a disservice.

I sat down with a few of my friends—authors and editors—and talked about this debate.

What are your thoughts on this debate? Drop a comment below and tell me what you think…

The Panelists

Maura van der Linden: My publishing career started in technical non-fiction with one solo book on Software Security Testing and a contribution to a study guide for a software security certification. I then moved to writing small-press fiction under a pen name and began editing for several of my publishers. With the advantage of being both a life-long reader and a bit of a grammar geek, I discovered I really enjoyed editing and helping develop an author’s work without taking it over.

I enjoy the challenges of polishing stories and books without detracting from their author’s voice or intent. I guess I really love editing works of fiction.



G.G. Silverman:

G.G. Silverman lives north of Seattle with her husband and dog, both of whom are ridiculously adorable. When she isn’t writing, she loves to explore the mossy woods and wind-swept coast of the Pacific Northwest, which provide moody inspiration for all her stories. She also enjoys bouts of inappropriate laughter, and hates wind chimes because they remind her of horror movies.

She holds a BFA from the Massachusetts College of Art and also completed the Writing for Children program at the University of Washington. She has attended the Martha’s Vineyard Institute for Creative Writing, the Oregon Coast Children’s Book Writer’s Workshop, and the Big Sur Writer’s Workshop.




E.M. Whittaker:

E.M. began writing when she turned 13, starting with fanfiction stories on RPGamer, Forfeit Island, and After growing her fanbase through these mediums, E.M. considered fictional writing after creating original characters and backstories within fandom universes. After extensive encouragement, E.M. plunged into original writing in 2012, specializing in paranormal mystery, urban fantasy and psychological thrillers.




16 Ways to Make Your Editor Love You

You don’t have to fear the mighty red pen of your editor!

Many of my writer friends are afraid of their editor. More accurately, they’re afraid of the massive overhauls they’ll end up doing once their editor sends back their books. Me, I LOVE my editors. In fact, the more they tell me to improve, the happier I am. I want to know how I can do things better the next time, so the more I learn from my current manuscript, the better.

Want to make your editor’s job easier and more enjoyable? Want to make sure your manuscript is as red-pen-free as possible? I sat down with a couple of my editor friends and asked them “What can we writers do to make you love us?”

Here is their answer:

The Cliff Notes

  1. Properly format your documents.
  2. Give me a setting and character I love.
    1. Use strong sensory hooks to engage the senses. Sight, smell, sounds: all of these things draw the editor (and your reader) into the story.
    2. Being forced to ask questions: make us wonder about what’s going on.
  3. Hold your ground and defend the reasons for your story. If there’s a reason why it’s put that way, let them know.
    1. Remember the editor is trying to help you tell YOUR story the best possible way. If they can’t understand what you’re trying to say, neither will the reader.
  4. Be easy to work with.
  5. Make each scene count. Eliminate anything that isn’t necessary.
  6. Bring an unfinished manuscript to your developmental editor. Work with them to figure out the best way to tell that story and make your plot work.
  7. Incorporate past feedback into your work. It shows your skills are growing.
  8. Build suspense through the plot of the book. Build it up so we enjoy it.
  9. Make an effort to pass the Bechdel test.
  10. Don’t talk about coffee too much!
  11. Be unique. Editors love to see something new!
  12. Follow basic plot structure (three act structure, hero’s journey, etc.)
    1. For plot structure, look up: Scene and Structure by Jack Bickham, The Marshall Plan by Evan Marshall
  13. Know the rules, but break them anyway. HAVE THE FOUNDATION, and build off it to make your work stand out.
  14. Don’t overdo it on the details. Make the details (action, setting, etc.) relevant, and use it to lead the reader through the story.
  15. Enjoy the process and learn as you grow. Be open to suggestions.
  16. Be on time with deadlines.

About the Panelists

Megan Hannum

Megan Hannum is a developmental editor and writing coach at Whynott Edit, helping writers refine their words, strengthen their skills, and tell the best possible version of their stories. It’s been said she has “a supernatural ability to see what’s missing,” which she uses to get writers from completed draft to publishable manuscript.

Get Social:




Michael Dellert

I’m an award-winning writer, editor, publishing consultant, and writing coach with a publishing career spanning 20 years. My blog, Adventures in Indie Publishing, is a resource for creative writers of all kinds.

With a Bachelor’s Degree in English Literature and Writing, a Master’s Degree in English Language and Literature, and a summer seminar at Cornell University’s elite School of Criticism and Theory, I have a formidable understanding of the art and mechanics of literature and poetry.

Get Social:

Publishing Services Web Page:






Battle of the Genres: Which is Best?

As you all know, I’m a pretty hardcore fantasy fan. I’ve been reading predominantly fantasy for the last few years, and have been heavy into Speculative Fiction since my teen years.

But, it turns out, there are more genres out there! Who knew? Heh…

During the launch of The Last Bucelarii (Book 2): Lament of the Fallen, I posted a few virtual discussion panels I had recorded with my author friends. One of them (I’m going to say my favorite) involved a debate about which genre was best.

Sorry to say, things stayed friendly and polite, but I had a chance to ask some fun questions like:

  • Aren’t science fiction and fantasy ONLY for nerds?
  • Is there any way to make romance more appealing to men?
  • How is paranormal not just romance with a fantasy spin?
  • Isn’t horror all blood and guts?
  • Isn’t it “if you’ve read one, you’ve read them all” for mystery thrillers?

My author friends did an amazing job of defending their genres, and I ended up with a discussion I think you’re going to love. Check out the full discussion below:


Which is YOUR favorite genre? Drop a comment below and let me know why it’s the best…


Where Sci-Fi and Fantasy Meet

Sci-fi and fantasy are two genres very near and dear to my heart. I’ve been reading mostly fantasy for the last few years, but recently a friend got me into an awesome sci-fi novel series.

As I read over the series, I realized sci-fi and fantasy are pretty much two sides of the same coin:

  • They’re both purely speculative, with one set in the “past” and one in the “future”
  • They use either “magic” or “technology” to do the impossible
  • They have similar themes: heroism, courage, self-sacrifice, facing insurmountable odds
  • and the list goes on…

On the face of it, the two genres are incredibly different, yet the truth is that they share so many things in common. I sat down with a few of my fantasy and sci-fi author friends to discuss my findings:

The Authors

Agnes Jankiewicz

A.A. Jankiewicz (known to most as Agnes) hails from the city of Pickering, Ontario. Her debut novel ‘Q-16 and the Eye to All Worlds’ was published as part of her thesis project at Durham College as part of the Contemporary Media Design Program. Prior to that, she graduated from York University with a BFA in Film Theory, Historiography and Criticism. When she’s not busy plotting the next great adventure, writing, doodling, tinkering in the Adobe suite programs or mellowing out with her friends, she enjoys walks with her four-legged companion Meesha. She is currently working on the next instalment in the Q-16 series.


Michael Baker

Creative writer, blogger and author, genres in fantasy, horror and sci-fi. Making my long-run fantasy world a reality.




Aaron Smith

Aaron Smith is an author and attorney living in San Diego, CA with his lovely wife and two pitbulls. He’s decided to put the voices in his head to work. His fiction has been featured at, and he has provided social and media analysis for Aaron is currently working on an urban fantasy novel, Identity, and a horror/adventure graphic novel, Inner Demons.

Twitter: @AaronCSmith1

Facebook: @aaronsmithauthor


Romance in Fantasy: Yes or No?

I think the question isn’t “Should fantasy include romance?” Instead, I think we should be asking “How much romance?”

The truth is that EVERYONE loves love. There is something wonderful about falling in love, finding that special someone in your life, and sharing your heart with your “soul mate”. No matter how cynical you act, there is always a part of you that can’t help but smile when you read the story of two people falling in love.

But when it comes to WRITING romance, you have to walk a very fine line. Too little can be just as bad as too much emphasis on romance. If you don’t do it right, you could turn an epic fantasy or sci-fi novel into nothing more than crappy genre romance.

I love writing romance as much as the next guy or gal, but here is what I tell myself when I write romance into a novel:

  1. Keep it relevant. Is the romantic sub-plot going to help develop my character or story? If not, it’s just distracting from what’s really important: the MC’s journey, growth, and development. Romance can play a central role in character development, but many writers throw it in there just because it appeals to readers. Make that romance relevant to the story, and it won’t feel like it’s there “just because”.
  2. Keep it in its place. How many chapters of an epic fantasy novel do you really need to dedicate to the budding love between two characters? Romance and relationships have their highs and lows, but most fantasy readers aren’t picking up your book because they’re looking forward to a spicy romance. That’s not to say you should trim it back or eliminate it, but simply keep it in its place.

It’s easy to forget that romance ISN’T the most important part of the story, just like it’s easy to forget to include romance in the story in the first place. The secret to being a truly effective writer is knowing how to walk that fine line between too much and too little romance.

Now, what about sex? Does sex deserve a place in your fantasy novels? I actually asked this question to a few writers and editors, and we had a fascinating discussion on the topic:

Add Sex in Fantasy video

This post is part of the Virtual Fantasy Con Blog Tour.

Pop over here to see the rest of the Blog Tour posts…


18 Amazing Marketing Tips that WORK

Marketing is the writer’s bane! While there is nothing we want more than to retreat into our little bubble of creativity, unfortunately that is no longer an option. Unless you’re Stephen King or G.R.R. Martin, you have to do a lot of marketing. For indie authors, the vast majority of the marketing rests squarely on your shoulders.

But we don’t have endless time to dedicate to both marketing and writing. It’s vital, therefore, that you/I/we find ways to make the most of the little marketing time available.

In the video below, I talk with a few indie author marketing pros to find out what they do that actually WORKS (sells books). The 18 tips in the video will help you to know where to focus your marketing efforts, what to do, and how to do it effectively:

Cliff Notes:

  1. Make Book 1 in a series freebie
  2. Get involved in writers’ group, professional organizations, etc. NETWORK!!!!
  3. Don’t give anything away for free. Make readers work for it using sign-ups, etc.
  4. Use FreeBooksy, Bargain Booksy, and other promo newsletters for promo/freebie days. (Look on Awesome Gang for free websites and pages for promos)
  5. Promote yourself, not your product.
  6. Reach readers as well as fellow authors by sharing resources that interest them as well.
  7. Don’t put all your eggs into a basket–sell it EVERYWHERE, not just Amazon.
    1. Though KDP Select does offer benefits.
  8. Take advantage Hootsuite, Buffer, and other social media content automated sharing services.
  9. Create a fan group.
  10. Add social media and website links to the back of your eBooks and in your email signature.
  11. Include message in the back of your book (eBook and paperback) to leave a review.
  12. Build your email list and keep fans engaged.
  13. What to send in newsletter: recap of activities for month, excerpts from WIP, give away free paperback, blog content (or links to it), change things up, etc.
  14. Always have promo materials on hand!!!
  15. Use Headtalker or Thunderclap to promote your book, even if not on a big launch or giveaway. ANYTIME is good!
  16. Always plan ahead!!! Set up a launch plan well in advance of the date!
  17. Create image teasers to generate interest into the books, using quotes to your book + link to your website.
  18. Go to and find hashtags relevant to your content/book.

Meet the Panelists

Megan Peticolas Haskell:

Legend has it I was born with a book in my hands. Thirty-ish years later, I’m a stay-at-home-mom who prefers a good story over doing the dishes. Only now, I’m building my own fantasy worlds! Sanyare: The Last Descendant is my first published novel, but the sequel, Sanyare: The Heir Apparent, is set to release on September 21, 2016. I am also the Program Director of O.C. Writers, A Network of Published and Aspiring Authors, located in Orange County, CA. To find out more about me and my books, visit my website at!







Sarah Hendrix-Craft

Sarah is a queen of Chaos. She’s finally broke the chains of working a day job and now freelances working as a personal assistant for Jennifer Brozek and Cat Rambo and handles promotions for Apocalypse Ink Productions and Evil Girlfriend Media, TANSTAAFL Press and Jim French’s Imagination Theatre. Spare time finds her writing, beading, and knitting.  To complete her love of all things unorganized, she has 3 cats, 2 teenage boys and a husband. You can find her work in Space Battles #6 from Flying Pen Press, the In Situ, and the FISH anthologies both from Dagan Books, “Ordinary Hero” from Lakeside Circus and  “The Coin Whisperer” in Abyss and Apex or follow her blog, Twitter or Facebook.


Karina Kantas:

Karina Kantas is the author of the popular OUTLAW series. She also writes short stories and when her imagination is working over time, she writes thought provoking dark flash fiction.

There are many layers to Karina’s writing style and talent. As you will see in her flash fiction collections. And in UNDRESSED she opens up more to her fans. Giving them another glimpse of her warped mind.

When Karina isn’t busy working on her next best seller, she’s designing teasers, book trailers, recording audio or videoing small readings and then working on Twitter and FB posts.

Facebook Page:




12 Mistakes that Will Make Your Editor Cringe

Today, I’m excited to bring you something awesome and new!

During the launch party for The Last Bucelarii (Book 2): Lament of the Fallen, I had so much fun with the virtual discussion panels that I decided  to do them on a regular basis. I want to do at least one or two per month, all on topics of interest to readers and authors.

This first one is one that ALL authors will want to check out. The title “12 Mistakes that Will Make Your Editor Cringe”.

In the video below, I sit down with three awesome editors and talk about writing mistakes that will turn any editor’s stomach. Watch it and see for yourself how you can avoid irritating your editor:

Quick Recap:

The 12 mistakes are:

  1. Not reading submission guidelines
  2. Awkward, clunky, or incorrect dialogues
  3. Describing dialogue instead of having the dialogue
  4. Magic without a price/cost, undeveloped magic system or deus ex machina
  5. Deus ex machina
  6. Underdevelopment of romantic relationships — “it’s meant to be” BAD!
  7. Dialogue tags poorly used
  8. Too many big words, especially when used incorrectly. Using the words RIGHT!
  9. Crutch phrases that are lazy writing. “Almost”, “somehow”, “thought to myself”,
  10. Incorrectly used modifiers.
  11. “Who” and “that” used incorrectly
  12. Books with female leads that don’t pass the Bechdel test

The Panelists:

Megan Hannum is a developmental editor and writing coach at Whynott Edit, helping writers refine their words, strengthen their skills, and tell the best possible version of their stories. It’s been said she has “a supernatural ability to see what’s missing,” which she uses to get writers from completed draft to publishable manuscript. Sign up for a FREE 30-minute consultation to kickstart your revision now!

Website –

Facebook –

Twitter –


Heidi Angell is a bibliophile, lexicomaniac and wordsmith. She is the author of The Hunters Series, The Clear Angel Chronicles, and The Hell School Series. She also created Royal Prince Vince, and Creative Exercises to Inspire. When she is not reading and writing, she can be found spending quality time with her lovely family camping, hiking, swimming, or watching movies.


Maura Van der Linden is an expert in both technical and creative writing, and has spent her life helping authors perfect their craft.



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